A member of the beryl group (the same as Emerald), Aquamarine’s clear blue colour flatters all skin colours, and works in harmony with most precious metals. It’s name itself gives away its colour: “aqua” meaning “water”, and “marina” meaning “of the sea”. In ancient times it was thought to come from the treasure chests of mermaids, and sailors took a piece of it to sea with them to protect from shipwreck.
Aquamarine is found in large crystals, rough crystals of up to 1 metre in length are not uncommon. Faceted stones of 1,000 carats are known. Generally, it is free of most inclusions, though highly included examples can be slightly translucent. The most sought-after stones have a lovely clear blue, without a tinge of green or yellow. Even in its deepest colour, it rarely matches sapphire’s blue. The colour comes from trace amounts of iron in the crystal. Typically aquamarine crystals are cut as step cuts; this maximises its depth of colour.
Today, most aquamarine comes from Minas Gerais in Brazil.
As aquamarine is sensitive to heat, it should be protected from excessive sun and heat exposure. It has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Moh’s hardness scale.